Who Is The Fraser Valley Salmon Society

Fraser Valley Salmon Society is a non-profit society that ensures and advocates for the rights for all anglers in non-tidal waters and works with DFO as co-managers in conservation and habitat protection. The FVSS is also heavily involved in the training and education of anglers and the public to sport fishing.

Our current directors are:

  • Dean Werk, President
  • Nick Basok, Vice President
  • Chris Gadsden, Treasurer
  • Alyssa Cowles, Secretary
  • Terry Bodman
  • Chuck Grant
  • Brittany Neels
  • Glen Stoner
  • Landon Gill
  • Chad Hammond
  • Dean Worrall
  • Jacob Bergen

Activities

The following activities take place at the Fraser Valley Salmon Society throughout the year.

  • Ensure angler access on our local waters
  • Extend salmon fishing opportunities year round
  • Expand all species opportunities
  • Maintain a productive, effective working relation with DFO
  • Provide catch/effort data via our logbook
  • Using newsletters, mall displays and media; inform the public about responsibilities and opportunities for recreational angling
  • Represent the resource to everyone's best interest

Stay Connected

News Updates from the society is provided on our Facebook page and Twitter.

Chilliwack's All About Fishing Event

Chilliwack's All About Fishing Event will be held on March 14, 2020.

More Details to come soon!

Used Fishing Tackle Swap Meet and Sale

Used Fishing Tackle Swap Meet will be held at the Carman United Church, Chilliwack BC on Saturday December 14, 2020 - 9:00am to 1:00pm

View the PDF for more Details

Becoming a Member

Please become a new member or renew your membership thereby helping us help you. Membership fees are $10.00 per year covering the period from April 1 to March 31, or $20.00 for two years, or $100.00 for a Lifetime Membership. Lifetime members ONLY will receive a membership card, which can be used at Chilliwack Dart & Tackle to receive a 10% discount on purchases.

Membership Term

Donations

Donations can be made to the Fraser Valley Salmon Society by cheque. Our mailing address is:

Fraser Valley Salmon Society
42398 Adams Road
Chilliwack, BC, V2R 4K9

Tax receipts are not available as we do lobby.

 

 

FVSS History

By Chris Gadsden

On a hot humid day in May of 1984, on the 29th to be exact, 250 concerned Fraser River fishermen gathered in Evergreen Hall in Chilliwack. The agenda before them was to see if there was enough interest to form an organization to see what could be done to reopen the Fraser to the retention of adult chinooks. This once popular fishery had been closed since 1980. At the time of the meeting only chinook jacks up to 50 centimeters to a maxim limit of 4 per day could be retained.

What had triggered this meeting was the May 3, 1984 ticket received by the late Peter Epp, a long time Fraser River fisherman, for retaining an adult chinook. He caught it at the mouth of the Sumas River where it meets the Fraser, a popular spot for chinook fishing that usually started in April.

Sports fishers are among the best conservationists and law abiding user groups, and they did not support breaking the law, but it still seemed to many anglers that there was imbalance going on here regarding the allotment of these Pacific Salmon to the freshwater fishery. At this time in the ocean 30 chinook a year could be retained by a salt water angler.

During the time of the 4 year closure, the sporties on the Fraser River were the only user group not being able to retain adult chinooks, and they were the ones that science said has the least impact. As well, sports' fishing con- tributes millions of dollars to the economy in British Columbia, but the several businesses in the Fraser Valley suffered from the loss of this fishery.

Chris Gadsden and Fred Helmer Jr. presided at this meeting and outlined their reasons and goals for calling it. They were amazed and encouraged by the attendance at this original gathering. The attendees also gave the group a financial kick start tossing $322.51 into the hat that was passed through the crowd. Individual anglers found at this meeting they had many allies and collectively they concluded there was strength in unity to press for changes.

At this meeting an executive of 18 was elected to formulate a game plan to how to try to reopen the fishery. Fred Helmer Sr. was elected to the presidency.

At the newly elected board's first executive meeting 2 days later, the name Fraser Valley Salmon Society was selected along with a crest design.

The newly-formed board determined a number of noteworthy points to work on that included:

1. Justice -- salt water limit vs. fresh water.
2. Develop a punch-card system similar to the saltwater one in use.
3. Enforcement of present regulations.
4. Inability of DFO to establish sport salmon catch numbers in the Fraser River.
5. Self policing being the presence of law abiding fisherman returning to the river.

A month later another general meeting was called where petitions and form letters were circulated to be sent to the then Liberal Fisheries Minister Pierre De Bane were circulated and filled out by the 100 interested fishers that turned out.

During the next couple of months the group was frustrated by a number of changes in the fisheries portfolio as De Bane was replaced soon after the letter writing campaign started being replaced on June 30 by The Honorable Herb Breau.

A little over 2 months later, on September 17, a new government, The Conservatives, were sworn into power with the Honorable John Fraser being appointed the new Fisheries minister.

The FVSS felt good about Fraser's appointment. With the same name as the Fraser River, was there some justice here? Fraser also was from the West Coast and was a sports angler himself, so the hope was he could identify the problems at hand.

At the same time as Fraser took the Fisheries Minister's post, FVSS got another boost as the now late Lee Straight gave the Society his support. Straight, a well-known newspaper columnist for the Vancouver Sun for many years, was also the Federal Fisheries' Pacific region ombudsman.

Straight was quoted in the Chilliwack Progress On August 29 the same year, "The sports anglers on the Fraser are being wildly discriminated against by Federal Fisheries' regulations."

With all this, the fledgling group continued with their lobbying and was re- warded with an adult Chinook fishery for the month of October, 1984 even though it was on the Chilliwack / Vedder River and not the Fraser River.

The group pressed on with their agenda and was given an audience with the Federal Fisheries in Vancouver on January 25, 1985. Four directors that included Roy Huband, Fred Helmer Jr., Peter Sellmer, and the late John Vail all attended this much sought-after meeting. As well, director Huband, who represented FVSS interests on the Sports Fishing Advisory Board, took part in a meeting with the newly appointed Minister Fraser around the same time.

All this effort of writing campaigns and numerous meetings finally paid off as more success was made when the department announced an opening on the Fraser River from the Mission Bridge and up-stream to the power lines above the Agassiz – Rosedale Bridge.

The opening was from September 13 until October 31 with one Chinook a day over 50 cm in length. Once again this fishery was going again after a 5 year closure.

This fishery continued in varying lengths of time for a few years, but too slowly for some. FVSS wanted a 12-month fishery. The result was that a major protest fishery took place on Queens Bar off Island 22 on August the 10, 1986. This protest, attended by 50 or so members and supporters, was covered by 3 Vancouver-based Television stations along with local radio station news director Grant Ullyot and several newspapers.

This media attention once again drew the attention of the Department, and Fraser Valley MP, the late Ross Belsher, arranged a meeting with the once again new Fishery Minister, Tom Siddon.

The meeting, along with the presentation made by the then President, Pete Sellmer, was very well received by Siddon and his staff.

At the conclusion of this meeting, Siddon asked Area Manager of the time Fred Fraser, "How many fish are we talking about for these fishers here Fred?" When Fraser answered about 3,000, Siddon replied, "We are talking about only 3,000 pieces".

The rest is history as the seasons were expanded over a period of time un- til we have a Chinook season that starts May 1 and runs to December 31 in most cases.

The FVSS may still not have their 12-month fishery yet, but have expanded the fishery to all species of Pacific Salmon over the years. Also, the FVSS success story has created other fishing opportunities throughout the Province of British Columbia the last few years.

These expanded fisheries have created an economic boom to the Valley that generates millions of dollars to the local economy. Anglers are attracted world wide to the Chilliwack area to fish the Fraser, the largest salmon producing river in the world.

Several new guiding operations have sprung up recently to accommodate these seekers of the Pacific salmon, with the Chinook being the king of them all, as they can reach 60 pounds of fighting fury. As well, the FVSS supports the continuing of the sturgeon catch-and-release fishery that also is very popular for the in-coming tourists.

The FVSS is now recognized by all levels of Government as a power to be recognized. The Society's directors sit on different boards and organizations way to numerous to mention. They also put on a yearly All About Fishing show directed at educating the young anglers, as well as an annual coarse-fishing day in June at Cultus Lake. Last year former Vancouver Canuck Trent Klatt and his 5 children took in the event. Fin the team's popular mascot was also a hit for the young anglers.

One wonders what would have happened to this fishery now taken for granted by many new anglers if 200 concerned anglers did not get together on that hot and humid evening 20 years ago and formed the Fraser Valley Salmon Society.

If it was not for the past presidents that included Fred Helmer Sr, Peter Sellmer, Sandy Ritchie, Fred Helmer Jr., Frank Kwak and the present President Dean Werk along with numerous different directors over the years, where would we be? If it was not for all their unselfish service to the fishing community we most likely would be still sitting on the banks of the Fraser instead of fishing for adult Chinooks and other species. We must remember to thank them all for the thousands of countless hours they have so freely given, and the hundreds of meetings they've attended over these 26 past years and are still attending. To Quote Izaak Walton, "God never did make a more calm, quiet and innocent recreation than angling." How true that statement was and still is. I am sure present presidents, directors and all those that will follow in the future will work to retain this recreation, sports angling on the Fraser River